Through Restoration

Photo by Margaret Sentman
After plummeting to a near-record low in 2007, blue crab populations in the Bay have nearly tripled thanks to restrictions on catching females. Photo by Margaret Sentman

Bringing Native Species Back from the Brink

In the four centuries since the explorations of Captain John Smith, the Chesapeake Bay has lost half of its forested shoreline, more than half its wetlands, nearly 80 percent of its underwater grasses, and more than 98 percent of its oysters. Across the watershed, approximately 1.7 million acres of once-untouched land were developed by 1950. Development has accelerated dramatically since then, with an additional 2.7 million acres built on or paved over between 1950 and 1980.

The human pressure of these changes has imposed heavy negative impacts on the health and resilience of the Bay. Although we will never return to the pristine territory explored by Captain John Smith during those early voyages, CBF is fighting to return this fragile ecosystem to balance.

For years, CBF has been a leader in restoration efforts that improve the capacity of rivers, streams, and the Bay to treat pollution. In programs across the watershed, many of them conducted with CBF volunteers and partner organizations, CBF is restoring native oysters, planting underwater grasses, and planting trees, to restore the Bay's natural filters.

Working With Farmers to Reduce Pollution

The evidence is clear: Reducing pollution on agricultural land is far and away the cheapest, most cost-effective pollution-reduction strategy. But for individuals tasked with getting the job done, the financial costs can present a challenge, even for those who really want to do the right thing.

CBF has helped scores of farmers find funding and implement conservation practices that have dramatically reduced pollution running off their land. CBF is working hard to remove the road-blocks and accelerate progress through restorations like the one on the Plouse family dairy farm.

Through The Maryland Grazers Network, dairy farmers like Myron Martin and Ron Holter are proving that sustainable farming can help increase profits. Developed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Clagett Farm, the network is a mentorship program that provides farmers with technical assistance and expertise in pasture and forage management, financial management, marketing, and funding.

CBF's Clagett Farm is a working farm and a site for field experiences for students, teachers, and adults.

Find out more about the issues CBF is working on in your part of the watershed or volunteer for one of our restoration projects.

FY14 Restoration Accomplishments

Planted 29 million juvenile oysters throughout the Bay—23.8 million in Maryland and 5.1 million in Virginia. To date, the oyster program has produced and planted over 200 million oysters. More than 2,000 concrete reef balls loaded with juvenile oysters have been planted onto sanctuary oyster reefs that filter pollution from the water and provide habitat for other Bay creatures.

Installed 19,791 linear feet of fencing in the Shenandoah Valley to keep livestock away from streams.

Planted more than 756 acres of forested buffers along streams and creeks in Pennsylvania and Maryland, and 5,675 linear feet of buffers on Virginia's Eastern Shore. These buffers will help absorb pollution and filter water flowing into waterways.

Worked with 429 farmers and landowners in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia to implement hundreds of cost-effective conservation practices that
will reduce pollution.

Organized the 26th annual Clean the Bay Day. Nearly 6,000 volunteers removed approximately 110,000 pounds of debris to clean up more than 450 miles of streams and shorelines.

Kicked off the Healthy Harbor Oyster Partnership. In collaboration with Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, local businesses, and area schools, the partnership will increase awareness and involvement by growing and planting oysters in the Patapsco River in Maryland.

Completed holistic restoration programs in Richmond and on Virginia's Eastern Shore. Programs integrated polluted runoff restoration activities with educational courses and outdoor engagement activities, such as watershed walks and scoop the poop events. Both programs are informing development of future programs.

You may also be interested in
  • Oyster Gardening in the Inner Harbor CBF and the Waterfront Partnership have created The Great Baltimore Oyster Partnership as art of the Healthy Harbor Initiative to make Baltimore's Inner Harbor swimmable and fishable.
  • Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Landowners in Pennsylvania can protect water quality in the rivers and streams that flow into the Chesapeake Bay by making their streamside property or farmland more conservation-friendly with help from this program.
  • Pleasure House Point Leading the effort to conserve Pleasure House Point, one of the last remaining natural waterfront areas of Virginia Beach.
  • Antietam Farm Stewardship Program Providing resources to help restore streams in this highly erodible watershed.
  • Great Shellfish of the Bay Now, thanks to increased awareness, extensive restoration efforts, resisting the introduction of a non-native oyster species, and favorable weather conditions, there is hope for the mighty oyster yet.
  • Stream Restoration Healthy rivers and streams provide vital habitat. CBF and our volunteers are working to keep Pennsylvania waterways healthy and restore those that are impaired.
  • CBF Creates First Urban Living Shoreline in Annapolis CBF staff and volunteers created a living shoreline in the Parkwood neighborhood in Annapolis.
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